Conference Outputs

Commentaries on each of the 12 panel sessions were provided by participants and are linked below. There are is also a summary of Day 1 and Day 2.


Panel 1 – Regional policies on pastoralism and the politics of pastoralist policy

While there has been considerable experimentation in policy and law to support ‘traditional’ forms of mobile pastoralism in West Africa, to what extent can these be replicated in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa where the pressures on pastoralism are different, and also where the receptiveness of governments and the influence of civil society organisations is variable? Who has benefited from policies and laws in West Africa intended to support pastoralists? Have these been the right laws and policies in the first place? Should promoting customary, mobile pastoralism be the core objective of laws and policies to support the livelihoods of pastoralist populations? Given the very different future scenarios for pastoralist populations, what are the policy priorities? Are there particular characteristics of pastoral regions which require integrated, cross-border regional policies to promote economic activity associated with pastoralism?


Panel 2 – Sustainability of pastoralist production systems: mobility and climate change

Climate change is often treated as a key driver affecting access to resources for pastoralists, but what other drivers are limiting access and undermining the capacity of livestock production systems in pastoral areas? Have demographic pressures become so extreme that real resource limits have been reached, and the opportunities for flexible, mobile production systems have disappeared? Has the very basis for adaptability of pastoralist production systems been irrevocably undermined? Or, by contrast, are mobile systems the best way of adapting to increased resource pressure and variable climatic conditions, and more than ever need to be supported? Is climate change providing opportunities for the expansion of livestock systems into previously agricultural areas?

Panel 3 – Regional conflict dynamics in the Horn of Africa and the implications for pastoralist development

While localised competitions over access to and control of critical resources are endemic in many areas of the Horn of Africa, the nature of conflict in pastoral areas is complex and changing. How is the closer integration of pastoralist areas into national and regional markets affecting the dynamics of conflict, as well as reshaping opportunities for building peace? How is political devolution and the emergence of new authorities in pastoral areas affecting social relations in and amongst pastoralist societies in the Horn? How is the linking of conflict in the Horn to global security concerns changing the politics of development and efforts to promote peace in the region? Are there any notable local peace-building efforts that might serve as models for promoting peaceful relations more widely? What are the limits of local peace-building approaches that are currently favoured by aid actors in the region?


Panels 4 and 7 – Land grabbing, tenure and pastoralist responses

Competition for land in pastoral areas has never been so intense – a combination of land fragmentation, enclosures, urban expansion, agricultural encroachment, and the acquisition of large land areas under investment deals for crops, biofuels, ranching, and tourism has created enormous new pressures on access to key resources and the movements of livestock and people. What have been the responses – at local level, and more broadly through policy initiatives? Does this represent the end of pastoralism as we knew it, or are there innovative responses through new forms of tenure arrangement, legal challenge and cooperative arrangements with new land users which are emerging? But who are the winners and losers in this process?


Panel 5 and 8 – Alternative livelihoods and exits from pastoralism

Pastoralists have always moved in and out of mobile livestock production, and very often have also been traders, farmers, wage earners and town dwellers, too. But has this dynamic shifting between livelihoods changed in recent times, and what are the future trends likely to be? Not everyone can be a pastoralist, but are there productive pathways of diversified livelihoods which are possible? For example, is there a secure future for pastoralists in towns, or is this exit from pastoralism one towards extreme vulnerability and destitution? What are the different kinds of exit from pastoralism, and who returns and how? What are the economic and social relationships between herders and those outside the pastoral economy? What potential multiplier effects are there? And is pastoralism ever compatible with large-scale irrigation? Is there always conflict or are there potential positive complementarities?


Panel 6 – Commercialising pastoralism: markets, trade and value-added diversification

Across pastoral areas of sub-Saharan Africa markets are opening up, helping to improve livelihoods and generate substantial new wealth for local and national economies. Who is commercialising, and who benefits from the opening up of market and trade opportunities? Is this driving a new process of social and economic differentiation in pastoral areas? Is this process generating significant new wealth for rangeland economies which trickles down or provides the opportunity for wider diversification or is it in fact concentrated amongst elites, creating new vulnerabilities for others? Is commercialisation leading to greater social stratification and the further establishment of two-tier pastoral societies, with attendant social problems and potential for conflicts?


Panel 9 – Delivering basic services in pastoralist areas: human health, education, and veterinary

In remote areas with limited infrastructure and high costs of delivery, especially when populations are mobile, how can states and other actors best provide services that are appropriate and reliable and that address basic needs for pastoralists for better health, dependable veterinary care and access to education and learning opportunities that matter to the pastoralist economy? Pastoralists historically have received very few of the benefits of the modern state, and are often reliant on local moral economies and aid hand outs. Are pastoralists equipped with the networking and mobilisation skills and capacities to demand their rights as citizens, and demand services from the state?


Panel 10 – Pastoralist innovations

Alongside formal scientific and technological advancements, pastoralists are developing and testing new knowledge and practices to manage longstanding challenges and more recent pressures as well as take advantage of emerging opportunities to participate in national and regional politics and markets. However, although there is considerable innovation happening in pastoralist areas it is not documented or understood except by the people doing it. Why are pastoralists innovating? What examples are there of creative problem solving by pastoralists? Who is innovating who is not and what are the reasons for any significant social differentiation? What are the implications of these innovations and new activities for the way the institutions of the household, family and kin groups are organised, within themselves, and in relation to one another? What mechanisms are pastoralists developing to spread innovation and what are the opportunities, challenges and hindrances more generally to promoting the uptake of innovations?


Panel 11 – New aid approaches for strengthening pastoralist livelihoods, including social protection

There is a wide recognition that decades of food aid delivery has not helped to significantly improve the livelihood prospects of poorer pastoralists. Aid agencies and governments alike are rethinking their approaches and there is considerable experimentation with new ways of delivering aid to pastoralists. But are these the right ones to help strengthen pastoral livelihoods in the future? For example, will safety set schemes simply lock destitute pastoralists into ultimately unsustainable livelihoods or are they providing life-saving assistance for people with no other options? Should donors and governments seek out more radical options, such as supporting destitute pastoralists to leave pastoral areas, such as through the provision of skills, training and provision of basic assets? At the same time should governments and donors back those with a chance of future success through insurance schemes that provide protection for livestock assets – by definition the not-so-poor?


Panel 12 – Social difference and pastoralism: gender and youth as determinants of change and continuity

Historically women in pastoralist society have been the agents of change and innovation, often taking up the burden of work following crises that test and adapt existing systems. Pastoralist societies collectively have been getting poorer yet women have become more autonomous and have gained access to resources through the work they have taken up to compensate for the loss of herds. At the same time as social hierarchies in families and clans become less significant in some pastoralist societies, more autonomy for young men potentially emerges, with greater flexibility in livelihood opportunity. However what is the downside of this? Are increasing numbers of youth being dispossessed, disinherited and abandoned by family and clan structures, and so forced to migrate or take up militarised livelihood strategies? Most pastoralist youth today will not be pastoralists in the future, but what will they do?

Timeline and trend analysis for different pastoral areas